Coyotes Open Summit League Tourney Friday

South Dakota players celebrate a point during a home match earlier this season. USD is the third seed in the Summit League Volleyball Tournament, beginning today (Friday) in Sioux Falls. The Coyotes will take on Kansas City at 6 p.m.

SIOUX FALLS — USD Volleyball claimed the third seed in Summit League Volleyball Tournament this weekend in Sioux Falls.

The tournament was originally set to be played in Vermillion for the Coytoes winning the 2019 regular season title, but was moved to the Sanford Pentagon for COVID-19 precautions. USD will host the 2021 season championship this fall.

The third seeded Coyotes face No. 2 Kansas City tonight (Friday). The ‘Roos swept USD two weeks ago in Vermillion. Both matches went five sets and the Coyotes held a 2-1 lead in both matches.

USD’s (13-6 overall, 12-3 in conference) only other loss in conference play came on Feb. 15 against Omaha, who made the conference tournament as the fourth seed.

The Coyote attack is led by sophomore Elizabeth Juhnke, who has 293 kills with a .235 hitting percentage. Sami Slaughter is second on the team with 195 kills.

Madison Jurgens leads the Coyotes in assists and serving aces. Jurgens eclipsed 3,000 career assists earlier in the season and has 743 on the year. She also has 27 aces.

Defensively, Libero Lolo Weideman has 328 digs to lead USD. Juhnke contributed 231 digs on the year. Madison Harms set the school record for blocks in a match this season and leads the team with 93 blocks. USD leads to conference in opponent hitting percentage, allowing a .141 this season.

Kansas City (13-3, 13-3) was swept by Denver in the final week of the season to fall from the top seed to the second seed. The ‘Roos’ other loss, like USD’s, came against Omaha in February.

Melanie Brecka leads Kansas City, and is second in the conference behind Juhnke, in kills per set this season with 4.09. Alli Schomers has totaled 669 assists for the ‘Roos.

The other first round match-up Friday features Denver and Omaha. The two teams met in the conference title game in 2019, with Denver prevailing. Omaha defeated the top seeded Coyotes in the semifinals to make the title game in that tournament.

The winner of each match Friday play Saturday afternoon for a spot in the smaller NCAA Tournament held fully in Omaha, Nebraska later this month. The field was cut from 64 to 48 teams due to COVID-19 and having the full tournament played in one location.

Denver and Omaha get the weekend started Friday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls at 2:30 p.m. USD and Kansas City play at 6 p.m. Friday night. The winners play at 2 p.m. Saturday. The three games will air on Midco Sports Network and are allowing limited fans.

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